Marlene first met me when I was about 15 years old and had been birding about a year. Nevertheless, when we were married 5 years later I'm sure she didn't realize what she was getting herself into. The two-week camping honeymoon, visiting many birding spots in Central Oregon and sleeping in the back of her dad's pickup should have been a significant clue.
We grew up together after marriage and raised a family. Birding was always a major part of my life but Marlene never resented the time it took me away from her. Of course, I usually tried to include her. She did learn to identify the common birds, but didn't consider herself a birder. And she was always up for a camping trip and short walk watching birds, but not all day. I'd often rise at dawn to go birding--letting Marlene sleep in, then come back before noon and spend the rest of the day together.
So now here we are, married 33 years, the kids all grown and on their own. The past year of unemployment has been challenging. Yet we are nearly inseparable, still very much in love.
So, as Marlene was out this morning taking the dog to the vet, I was looking out the window at the bird feeders. No, not my bird feeders, her bird feeders. She set them up and keeps them filled. If not for this, I might not have seen 3 White-throated Sparrows total all year. But there are 3 different birds that visit our feeders daily. And a Slate-colored and Cassiar Junco. And a Pink-sided Junco yesterday--my first in western Oregon. And the interior form of Spotted Towhee, rather than the resident Oregon form. Without Marlene I likely wouldn't have a bird feeder. I'd be missing out on the daily visits of the female Townsend's Warbler to the suet, and Marlene's favorite, the Red-breasted Nuthatches, coming every few minutes to take another sunflower seed up into the tree and crack it open by pounding its bill into the seed as it holds it in its feet.
In a small token of my appreciation, I present some photos of a White-crowned Sparrow that Marlene took out our windows a few weeks ago. I helped her with camera settings and she had great fun. I can tell you that birding (and my life) wouldn't be nearly as much fun without Marlene.